Outdoor Retail Gear Trends: 2016 men's summer lifestyle apparel

Check out the top trends and products in summer men's lifestyle apparel slated for outdoor retail shelves in 2016.
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Throughout the next month, SNEWS will recap its coverage of Outdoor Retailer Summer Market 2015 with select stories from the O.R. Daily we published at the show Aug. 5 – 8

With equal emphasis on style and function, the men’s lifestyle fashions featured at Summer Market look at home both at the crag and in the coffee shop. Gone are the days of “safari chic.” Now, looks are versatile, lightweight and textured.

Take Mountain Khakis, which had a simple goal for this season’s men’s lifestyle aesthetic: “I really wanted to create lifestyle silhouettes that were staples and classics without screaming ‘I’m 65 and a baby boomer, and I’m wearing zip-off pants,’” said Noah Robertson, co-founder and director of product development & design for Mountain Khakis.

Outdoor-loving folk of all colors — whether climbers, hikers, SUPers or otherwise — will dig the broader range of movement available in most bottoms and a few tops. Often popping up in a waistband or knee joint, more and more brands are adding slight stretch to their lifestyle pieces to ensure they travel from trail to town without a hitch.

“People like to look good, but they also like the idea that [the piece] works,” said Managing Director at Adidas Outdoor, Greg Thomsen. “They may never go climb the Dawn Wall, but they can identify with people doing that.”

Those interested in bottoms comfortable both bouldering and barhopping will love Adidas Outdoor’s ClimbTheCity Short (MSRP $55) for its elastic waistband, gusseted crotch and hardy four-way stretch ripstop fabric. The North Face adds stretch and durability to its Redrocks Short (MSRP $80) with Sorona, a bio-based yarn. When full-leg coverage is preferred, Prana’s abrasion-resistant Zioneer Pant (MSRP $89) will do the trick. Wider range of movement also comes in handy for bike commuters, and Mountain Hardwear and Mountain Khakis include reflective details on their nylon/cotton bottoms to up visibility.

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Breathability and minimal dry times likewise add vital versatility to men’s lifestyle apparel. Take the Pagosa Shirt (MSRP $79) from Outdoor Research. Pearl snap buttons and western styling hide a hybrid nylon/Tencel/cotton/spandex blend that wicks, breathes, stretches and incorporates UPF 15 sun protection. Men more comfortable in boat shoes than cowboy boots will prefer the Dokka Shirt (MSRP $49) by Bergans of Norway, which features rapid-dry Byokan fabric in a Hamptons-worthy pique silhouette. In work wear, Carhartt adds anti-odor, fast-drying and stain-preventing technologies to its Force Extreme T-Shirt.

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When it comes to lightweight pieces for hot summer days, many brands look to cotton this season, but they’re bolstering the natural material with synthetics to up its tech profile. Mark Little, global product line director for Patagonia, described the pros and cons of cotton as a fine line. “The most technical hot weather fabric you can get is really lightweight, open-weave cotton. It’s going to perform the best. On the flipside, there’s this downside to cotton where it’s not as quick-drying.” Patagonia trouble-shoots the issue in its cotton/hemp Lightweight A/C Shirt (MSRP $99). Similarly, Ecoths Mountain Khakis and SmartWool blend cotton with Coolmax Poly, nylon and merino, respectively, to maximize benefits.

Another goal of lifestyle pieces this season: To look at home away from home. Kate Larramendy, Toad&Co’s design & sustainability director, noted the brand’s aim to help consumers feel comfortable even when adventuring across the globe. “It’s the ability to look like a local — or at least look like a good version of yourself rather than a costumed version of yourself,” she said. The features of Toad&Co’s Debug UPF Stretch Shirt (MSRP $99) read like a laundry list of must-haves for the modern traveler, from wicking power and mechanical stretch to wrinkle-resistance, built-in insect repellent and a UPF 30+ rating. Those headed to high-Mercury locales will appreciate ExOfficcio’s Sol Cool Cryogen Shirt (MSRPs S/S $80; L/S $90) for its fast-drying and odor-resistant properties. Both pieces feature a hidden security zip pocket for stashing an ID and credit cards. For another hot weather travel option, turn to the Berghaus Ortler Shirt (MSRP $55) for its back venting.

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Neutral earth tones still rule the menswear palette, but designers are adding texture to give pieces more pizazz. Toad&Co’s Jackfish Short (MSRP $65) uses a herringbone grain to achieve natty, old-world character, while marled yarn adds depth to the Engine Crew (MSRP $60) from The North Face. Heathers and ombres also remain on the scene, as evidenced by the laidback style of both Columbia’s Trail Shaker Hoody (MSRP $45) and the Climaheat Fleece Jacket (MSRP $119) from Adidas Outdoor. United By Blue uses organic chambray to set apart its Selby Short (MSRP $62).

As always, brands see summer as a time to play with new plaids and prints. Check out the tartan on the Jackson Shirt (MSRP $145) from Ibex and the Northern Michigan-inspired motifs from Stormy Kromer.

-- Courtney Holden

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